Symbiosis and the Dark Intent problem

So, when the new talent tree updates were released, we also got some new information about how Symbiosis will work. You can read about the mechanic details here, if you haven’t already.

Lets take a look more specifically at the examples of abilities they gave us.

Here are some examples of spells gained through Symbiosis. The spells shared focus on utility, cooldowns, and survival.  (Adding Fireball to a Moonkin’s rotation sounds cool on paper, but wouldn’t actually be fun in the long run.)

Balance: Chains of Ice, Mirror Image, Mass Dispel
Feral: Feign Death (Play Dead!), Frost Nova, Soul Swap
Guardian: Ice Trap, Fear Ward, Consecration
Restoration: Ice Block, Hand of Sacrifice, Leap of Faith
Hunter: Dash
Warlock: Rejuvenation
Holy Paladin: Rebirth
Arms/Fury Warrior: Enrage
Enhancement/Elemental Shaman: Solar Beam

What does this mean? Well, these are a mix of baseline & specialization abilities. They are all mostly cooldowns & utility things. Moonkin for PvE would be able to pick up mirror image from mages to get a damage increasing cooldown relevant to their role in a raid. For PvP, maybe they want mass dispel or chains of ice. Remember that your specialization will have 10 possible abilities to choose from (one from each of the 10 classes). I’m personally really excited to get mirror image for my moonkin in PvE, and I’m going to start recruiting more mages to make sure I can have mirror images in my raid in MoP, since we only have one mage right now.

This is going to be really nice for druids if the allow symbiosis to potentially plug holes in our toolsets (ie. soulswap for feral druid bleeds, iceblock for resto PvP survivability, etc).

The Dark Intent Problem: As part of Symbiosis, you give a spell to the other class you linked with. This is likely going to be the most problematic part of the entire talent. If you were to give the other person things that changed the amount of DPS or healing they do in a raid situation, that could actually cause problems with class balancing (see: dark intent). In my raids right now, I usually complain when I’m moonkin DPS and I don’t get my dark intent, because that impacts how much DPS I can do in my raid. They are actually changing how dark intent works in Mists of Pandaria because of how it caused balancing problems for the caster classes.

However, Blizzard somehow didn’t learn from their mistake with Dark Intent, and are implementing symbiosis to give a whole ability to the class you cast it on. This problem is potentially worse than dark intent because the ability quite dramatically changes depending on who you cast it on. It may also limit how your team lets you use it. For example, in a PvE situation, you may benefit the most when you give it to a warlock, but your raid could require you to give it to a fury warrior, instead, because that benefits the raid the most (maybe your warlock doesn’t really need Rejuv in return). In PvP, giving dash to your hunter is going to be more beneficial than giving battle res to your paladin, although you may benefit more from the ability you would get from the paladin than the hunter. While Symbiosis as a whole is really awesome, it is going to cause all sorts of balancing issues that we need to be thinking about before the system goes live. It might just be better if the druid got an ability but didn’t give anything to their target, even though I think it would be fun for druids to have a super overpowered ability that everyone in your raid wanted. 🙂

I think that letting druids borrow abilities from other classes is perfectly fine, and is really neat. However, giving abilities to the other classes in return may cause problems and is something we should really think about as the development process goes on.

Posted in Cataclysm, Written By Lissanna

17 comments on “Symbiosis and the Dark Intent problem
  1. Poneria says:

    I recall having the personal benefit vs. raid’s benefit debate on Ultraxion when we were first progressing with Juv/Skar. Personally, Juv & I both would have personally benefited more if I chose him, but I felt the DPS race did better when I helped Skar get the most out of front-facing feral that he could. I always choose the raid’s benefit unless we are entirely screwing around on the farm fight, and I would recommend to the druids to choose the same option if Symbiosis continues as-is.

    As a warlock who’s had to deal with the Dark Intent choices, it ends up a priority list and I only really paid attention to the top five specs anyway. It got to the point where multiple warlocks have “their” person that they place DI on, and when we welcomed a new warlock into the fold, we had to find them a person to call their own. It’s possible, at least for PvE, that Symbiosis means that every druid will have their own person to buff. I just warn you that it was complicated enough trying to make three warlocks have three different people and make sure that no warlock got the short stick buffee all the time if, say, we only had 2 moonkin and 0 shadow priests.

    When you lose a warlock in the raid, it also sucks for the other person, sure, but it’s ultimately not the receiver’s choice or right to the buff, I feel. I try to treat every raid night separate from the others; at the beginning I always ask who it is best to put it on, and with the same raid group it often ends up being the same person night after night. Same with Symbiosis — not that the warlock receipt ability is stellar at all — if I get it, great; if I don’t, okay, at least someone else will get some use out of it, and the raid, which we’re all in, will kill internet dragons anyway. 🙂

    • Lissanna says:

      When we have 5 druids in our 25-man raid, figuring out symbiosis targets is going to be a total pain. lol.

  2. Zy says:

    As much as I like the idea of Symbiosis (the first time I saw it I thought “HOW COOL!”) I fear it’s going to be a nightmare to balance. And I can’t say that I like the fact it will only be useful in an organized group. I do a lot of solo play and my druid’s soloing capabilities are one of my favorite things about her. Nevermind unorganized groups like LFR or random BGs, it’ll probably be more of a handicap there than anything else.

  3. Lument says:

    Symbiosis makes me think of “right vs. privilege”.

  4. Krounch says:

    Some people have suggested that symbiosis should work like this: the druid receives an ability that actually boosts his role (dps/healing/tanking), while the class receiving symbiosis gets a simple utility ability.

    That way symbiosis acts like an actuall buff for the druid, and gives a little bonus gift to the one that receives it, while not drastically changing his dps/healing.

    Because if symbiosis only gives a little utility to both, it’s basically useless, but if it gives a dps changing ability to both, then it’s DI all over again.

  5. Ohken says:

    It looks like Blizzard has anticipated the problem. If you look at the abilities they are talking about, the spell a class gains through symbiosis–including both druids and non-druids–is something that doesn’t improve throughput for their main role. Damage dealers don’t directly get more dps, and healers don’t directly get more hps. Warlocks get a heal, hunters get a mobility increase, and dps warriors get a survivability spell.

    To contrast, dark intent directly increases dps and hps, and there are spreadsheets to predict the precise amount.

    • Lissanna says:

      Enrage generates rage. Giving more rage to DPS warriors is going to potentially increase the amount of DPS that they do.

      You run the risk of giving the other class things they won’t use (warlocks aren’t going to cast rejuv in PvE, though they might in PvP) if you worry too much about giving them things that would overpower them.

      • Ohken says:

        My mistake, enrage is a dps booster. For some reason I thought of survival instincts when I read the list.

        I agree about the design challenge of convincing a dpser to press any button that doesn’t increase their dps. There are cases of it working, though. Two examples are interrupts and battle rezzes.

  6. Galindra says:

    Think this is gonna be an ‘interesting’ thing for many raid leaders to fathom out. Currently I’m the only raiding druid in my guild so at least there will only be one to sort out – but bet ya there are mains form various ppl when they don’t get the buff.

  7. Asrah says:

    I don’t like the idea of giving spells to others. It sounded cool at first, but now I don’t want others to fight over me. I want to choose what spell to get and not others decide about who gets it. It would feel like they get a new nice ability and not us. Its different with Dark Intent because the warlock always gets the same buff, they can place it on the raid member the raid requires. If we place it where others say, we may end up with a usless crap all the time.
    I don’t like the part ‘you cannot place it on a player who is already in Symbiosis with another druid’. 10 vs 10 battleground with 3-4 druids will be a fight about who places it on who. It also prevents 3v3 arena with 2 druids. One will have to run without their new high level bonus spell…

  8. Tranqx says:


    Im really not happy with the level 90 talent – heart of the wild.

    How dissappointing to level 5 levels for that talent.

    I found it extremely difficult to get into end content in DS due to the lack of damage reduction cd’s.

    All other healing class’s got neat pve level 90 talents. Why would blizzard make an obvious level 90 talent a pro pvp one?

    Also secondly will mushrooms cost 3 GCD’s

    Furthermore, I can’t see casting wrath to improve my next healing spell to be viable. This doesn’t work with shammies – why give something that is obviously broken to Druids?

  9. Juvenate says:

    From a healing perspective it could possibly cause some balancing concerns, especially for 10 mans. The fact that I, as a Resto Druid, could get Hand of Sacrifice AND Ironbark might cause raids to start stacking Druids and Paladins specifically for those cooldowns.

    Now I have noticed that Blizzard is giving all healers more access to tank cooldowns this expansion:

    Druids- Ironbark and (possibly) Hand of Sacrifice via Symbiosis

    Paladins- Hand of Sacrifice and Hand of Purity (reduces DoT damage) or Clemancy (resets the CD on HoS)

    Priests- Guardian Spirit/Pain Suppression and Vow of Unity or Void Shift

    Shaman- ?

    Shaman are currently the big ? right now, but I’m noticing a theme here. With the access to more tank cds, Blizz will be forced to offer those to Shaman as well. I can tell you right now that Priests will never get my Symbiosis if all I get is Leap of Faith. In raids Paladins will win every time.

    Overall, Druids seem to be getting the sweeter end of the deal for tank cooldowns, at least until we see what Shaman get.

  10. Tranqx says:

    Thanks for your comments JUv.

    What’s your thoughts on heart of the wild as a level 90 talent – I can’t see any pve benefit to this at all.

    Compared to other healers I just can’t see Druids as viable as priests and paladins in MOP.

    Furthermore I can’t see how casting a damaging spell to benefit your next healing spelling being viable – shammies have this now if I’m not mistaken and how many shammies do we know that use that shock ability.

    • Lissanna says:

      Talent problems are a whole other issue. 🙂

    • Juvenate says:

      It’s really too early to say. Testing needs to be done to see how we perform compared to other healers. Overall tho, I’m very excited and I believe we’ll be just fine in the long run.

      Heart of the Wild can be useful, but it still needs some serious work. The CD needs to be lowered and the effects need to be changed for it to be a viable talent for raiding.

      For example:

      Heart of the Wild (Resto)- Converts 100% Spirit into Hit rating, reduces the cast time of Wrath by .5 seconds and increases all spell damage done by 50%. Lasts 20 seconds. 3 minute CD.

      Being a healer with a powerful DPS CD during burn phases provides great utility. There are many times where healing is either light or not needed and we could help burn the boss down.

      Again I think the concept is viable, it’s just the execution that needs work. Most Resto Druids won’t want to go Kitty during that time period, we’ll want to stand back and Wrath/Moonfire spam. The same goes for Balance Druids, they’ll want to heal for the duration of the CD, not tank.

      • Stupidhero says:

        If class D can do X, Y and Z now, while Class P can do V, W, X, Y, Z, adding V and W to class D, while adding T and U to class P will fix nothing.
        That’s exactly what’s happening in MoP, just that this time round class S will also have T, U, V and W added.

        Hence it’s definitely not to early to say that we will perform worse, it can easily be deduced by a look at the toolkit each class provides.

        Also, HotW cannot be made viable without being borderline OP.
        Dynamically adjusting your raid setup while an encounter is in process is something which cannot possible be balanced. If on the other hand HotW isn’t more than a gimmick (i.e. you cannot even perform at half of what your secondary role can) – you’d be better of taking a class with actualy utility (see: every other classes talent tree e.g.)

  11. Kat says:

    I think symbiosis will be problematic for 10 mans and annoying to sort out in 25 mans. Most of our talents are more pvp orientated and/or dmg buff with a bit of healing buff and Symbiosis is trying to buff our weaknesses of no real mitigation or utility. The rebirth for pallys won’t be as effective as a druid’s glyphed rebirth and and it is limited use for raids, maybe they will change the glyph or the spell. We will end up requiring certain classes to be in our group or raid to perform equally with other classes.


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